‘Jojo Rabbit:’ Heart-warming characters outshine satire

“Jojo Rabbit,” arguably one of the most controversial films nominated for several Academy Awards earlier this year, was also one of the most deserving of an Oscar.
The Nazi Germany-era turned comedy tells the story of a 10-year-old avid member of the Nazi Youth, Johannes Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) and his mother, Rosie Betzler (Scarlett Johansson).
Jojo’s reality is challenged when he discovers the Jewish girl his mother had been hiding in their home. The unexpected friendship that ensues leads Jojo to face an inner battle with his blind nationalism and his eccentric imaginary friend—who happens to be Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi).
Taking home an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, director Taika Waititi based the film on the book Caging Skies by Christine Luenens, which follows Johannes and his discovery of Elsa. The novel inspired him to write a script that focused on the role of children during Nazi Germany. The comedy Waititi wrote into the script helps to form charming characters to whom viewers grow attached.
At first glance, the idea of combining comedy and this period of history seems dicey, but the script handles it skillfully, focusing the humor on the bizarre nature of the blind nationalism during that time. By far the most risky of comedic presences is Waititi’s own character, Adolf Hitler. The buffoonish and at times pushy figure is manifested in a child’s brain, and the film makes a point to emphasize that Hitler is not representative of the actual man. This aspect is a clever way Waititi introduces Jojo’s internal monologue and the main man vs. self conflict present throughout the film.
One of the most lovable characters is Jojo’s mother, Rosie, performed brilliantly by Best Performance by a Supporting Actress nominee Scarlett Johansson. Her soft and caring interactions with Elsa, the young Jewish girl whom she is hiding in her home, contain powerful messages of hope and the strength of being a woman. Johansson’s quirky and energetic portrayal brings to life the role of Rosie, creating a ray of light in a dark situation that beautifully contrasts Jojo’s political aggression. Not only is her role dedicated to mothers everywhere, but to those individuals who aided the Jewish people during this time.
Above all, the nomination for Best Picture was well deserved. While it claims to be a satire, the heartwarming nature of this film outshines the comedy through its characters. This film is relevant in today’s society and its message of the strength of individuals, the beautiful visuals, costumes, and incredible acting helped “Jojo Rabbit” to achieve its spot next to the other films in this year’s lineup.